A US court has awarded legal custody of triplets to a surrogate after she changed her mind about handing them over to the couple who commissioned their birth. The woman, from Pennsylvania, argued that the biological father and his fiancée didn't show enough interest in the children, after they were born last year. Apparently, the couple failed to name the children, didn't visit them during her hospital stay and went on holiday to their home in another state shortly after the birth.
The woman, Danielle Bimber, agreed to become a surrogate via an agency called Surrogate Mothers Inc, based in the state of Indiana. She was matched with the couple and an egg donor and the babies were conceived using the commissioning father's sperm. Ms Bimber testified that she was concerned about the behaviour of the couple after the birth, and asked the hospital staff if she could take the children home with her. As the hospital had no policy regarding surrogate births, it allowed her to do so. Ms Bimber then went on to ask the court for custody of the children.
As Pennsylvania is one of 19 states in the US that has no laws governing parenthood after surrogacy, and there is no federal law, the decision was entirely up to the court. It said that Ms Bimber should be considered the legal mother of the triplets because, despite not being genetically related, 'she carried them in her womb and then gave birth to them'. County Judge Shad Connelly ruled out the egg donor, who evidently had no desire to be the legal mother of the children, and the commissioning mother, as she was not married to the commissioning father. He also commented that he hoped that state lawmakers would look at surrogacy, and that he hoped that 'a custodial tug of war will not begin here'. But the judge also said that Ms Bimber must work out visitation and other rights with the biological father, who had also sought custody of the children.
After the decision, James Richardson, the biological father's lawyer, said that the man will appeal the decision. 'He feels strongly about this because he anticipated that this arrangement was going to result in him and his fiancée raising these children as their own, since he is the biological father', said Richardson, adding 'the current ruling identifies a person as the legal mother of the children whom he did not anticipate having any involvement in the children's lives'.
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Surrogate mother wins custody of triplets
Judge awards custody of triplets to surrogate mother